New to Audio Assemble?


Already have an account?

Thermal by Output Review

Ever since distortion came into being through classic rock and blues, no one can get enough of it. Distortion is regularly used on guitars and bass, but it can be effectively used on more than that. With a plugin such as Thermal, you are given a new distortion with which you can creatively and effectively add a dynamic edge to any part of your track. 


How We Reviewed Thermal 

We try to pull out the best parts of any plugins we review and talk about. We looked through what options are in Thermal and picked which stuck out to us the most to show to you here. 


Best for:

This distortion works best over instruments, usually, it is paired with synths. But there are many factors that make it a great choice for almost any sound. Just like with other Output plugins like Portal, you have the XY controls where you get to have basic balance controls over the general sound and effect. Let’s take a better look at the features that make Thermal such a great distortion. 


Algorithms – You get 19 analog and digitally modeled distortion algorithms to choose from for your sounds. This base option helps you get a better sound right off the bat, and you can shape them with the many options within each stage. 


3 Stages – You can stack your distortion choices in 3 stages. This gives you the chance to combine and create different sounds with all of the distortion options available. You can also set the frequency controls to only have the distortion affect the desired frequency range. 

3 Stages
3 Stages

Width and Tone – Adding width to your music and tracks can clear up a mix more than anything else. Many plugins do not include a feature such as this and you have to add one in after the fact. And the tone essentially gives you a high shelf and a low shelf with which you can adjust the overall sound.

Width and Tone
Width and Tone

Modulation and Effects – You have 2 envelopes to control for the modulation in which you can add and move around steps. You can change the rate and shape of the order, allowing for slower more gradual changes or sudden and sharp jumps.

Modulation and Effects
Modulation and Effects


The compatibility of Output plugins is exceptional. The only key piece to watch out for is if your computer and DAW are 64 bit compatible. The PC version works with both 32 and 64 bit, but Mac is only able to work with 64.

Memory4 GB RAM
8 GB recommended 
8 GB recommended 
Operating System10.9 or higherWindows 7, 8, or 10

This plugin comes to you digitally.


For distortion units, the prices can be fairly low but that is because they themselves do not contain much to be controlled. This leads to basic boring sounds or even sounds that make you cringe because they sound cheap and thin. For what all it can do, Thermal is one of the best choices on the market today especially for the price. If you watch on sites such as Plugin Boutique this holiday season, you might even find some great discounts.

Distortion without Destruction

Although it has only recently been released in 2020, Thermal has caught the attention of many producers and engineers. It is a fantastic choice for all instruments like guitars, strings, synths, 808’s and whatever else you can think of. Ramin Djawadi, who is known for thrilling compositions for shows such as Game of Thrones and Westworld, has praised Thermal as a “powerful plugin that sculpts sounds with precision.” 

If you would like to learn more about other Output and distortion plugins, you can check out all of our reviews and comparisons here.

Rent To Own Plugins On Splice

Gain access to premium plugins — all for one low monthly fee. Rent to own saving more money upfront, and even start with a free trial.